401K losses, mildy amusing.

Herrick is putting together some important posts over at The Deliberate Agrarian regarding our economic woes. I must admit I spend a lot of time ruminating about these things.

  • Please take time to read Slouching Away from Prosperity – Part I, Part II

I am quoting Herrick’s article here.

I’ve read that the average stock market investor has lost half the value of his portfolio in the recent stock market plunge. A man I work with, who has faithfully saved for years, and invested in stocks, admits to losing $250,000 this year, thus far.

These sort of losses are typical. The remarkable thing to me has been the rather casual reaction people have had towards the loss of such large sums of money. You can easily confirm this by performing a “Twitter” search for the term 401K. Twitter is sort of a mini-blog which people use to quickly publish very short remarks to a network of friends.  Click the link and you will see what I mean. Most folks seem to laugh off losing 50% of the value of their retirement savings. How can this be? How can they remain so calm?

I would love to believe that they are all trusting in the Lord and his promises to care for even the sparrows but I know that is not the case. No, I am sure they are trusting that within a year or two everything will return to normal. As I said I spend a lot of time ruminating about this so here are a few random thoughts regarding 401K’s and retirement.

  • Most folks calculate at a minimum 6% growth rate compounded for a number of years in order to retire with a sufficient income to maintain a modest living standard. Even if the market somehow manages to get back to 10,000 this year or next it is going to take years for you to recover the lost value and there is no reason for you to think there won’t be another crash.
  • While I believe the U.S. will remain very competitive in comparison to the rest of the world, it is going to become much harder. The only analogy I can think to make here is to say we are entering the “playoffs” and teams which previously seemed easy to beat are going to get a lot tougher. This is going to make it harder to maintain the consistent year to year growth you need to retire.
  • The world is not happy with us, and they are not happy with the dollar. It is going to take time but they will not bow to the American Empire forever, they are going to bring us down a notch and it is going to hurt. Sources I read say this could take another 10+ years to happen. Another reason to doubt the market stability required for you to save adequately for retirement.
  • There is talk that the govt. will allow people to voluntarily hand their retirement accounts over the govt. in trade for a guaranteed return. There is no reason to think the words voluntarily and guaranteed actually mean anything like…voluntarily and guaranteed.
  • Increased centralization and socialization of our economy is only going to make things worse. The only thing the govt. can do efficiently is spread misery.
  • It is likely that wages will fall as the number of available workers increase and the number of jobs decrease. Any growth going forward will have to be “real” growth and as such labor rates should be lower. This means less money to save.
  • While we may see lower prices in the short term as a result of deflation in the long run the govt. will resort to inflating the monetary supply in order to maintain it’s existence. Prices will rise again eventually, so you won’t be able to make up for less savings with lower prices.
  • As G.K. Chesterton says about democracy, one should not ask what you will do with the poor, you should ask what the poor are going to do with you.

If even some of the factors I mentioned here are true you are going to have to seriously rethink how much money you will have when you retire. I didn’t even mention all of the other looming disasters such as Social Security and Medicare.

Now let me ask you one question, and really think about this. If you knew for a fact that in twenty years all of your retirement savings was going to be wiped out,(zero, zilch, nada) what would you be doing now to prepare for that day? Is it fearful or prudent to make such preparations? Are these preparations evidence that you are not trusting in the Lord to care for you and your family?

What say you?


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